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In its heyday, Pullman systematized rail car construction at its sophisticated plant in Pullman, Illinois, and attempted to improve the living conditions of its workers at the model company town adjacent to the factory.
Providing a chain of hotels on wheels for millions of passengers, the Pullman Company revolutionized rail travel and in so doing dramatically increased employment opportunities for African Americans who served as porters on its cars.
Another large body of materials comprises the records of individual Pullman cars (e.g., drawings, specifications, photographs).Smaller railroad-related collections have also been added.Formed in 1855 by Boston capitalist John Murray Forbes, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy (CB&Q) employed 35,640 people by 1900 and included 7,545 miles of track mainly in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas.The following are among the topics covered: , 1851-1901, compiled by Elisabeth Coleman Jackson and Carolyn Curtis (Chicago: Newberry Library, 1949) is available in the Special Collections Reading Room of the Newberry. With origins dating from an 1830s Illinois-sponsored program of internal improvements, the Illinois Central Railroad (IC), based in Chicago, was chartered in 1851 to take advantage of the Federal Land Grant Act of 1850 and build a north-south line in Illinois from Cairo to Chicago.In advertising and selling lands along its route, the IC was a catalyst for growth in the central and southern regions of Illinois, attracting thousands of settlers and laying the foundations for agricultural, industrial, and urban development.
There is a good deal of information on buildings, structures, and right-of-way, including many large-scale “track books” with maps of the lines, sidings, and wayside structures.